It is frustrating that so many of the Blechenden family carry the same name. Thomas, John and Edward for the boys being particular favourites for this family. But, whilst it can cause confusion for family historians trying to establish whether someone is a son, a brother or a cousin it can also occasionally help to prove a family connection especially if the name is an unusual one or is a family name. It certainly wasn’t unusual for a mother’s or grandmother’s maiden name to be passed down to children as a first name. Some of those family names and connections have helped me unravel and confirm the next part of the Blechenden tree below.
This time I am looking at Thomas Blechenden (1633-1690) who in 1658 marries Margaret Lynch (1631-1712). Thomas is the eldest son of John Blechenden (1612-1701) and Anne Glover and the grandson of Thomas Blechenden (1586-1661) and Elizabeth Boys (1587-1618).
Thomas was the eldest son and as such stood to inherit lands and properties from his father. Unfortunately we do not have his father or his mother’s last will and testament so it is difficult to be absolutely clear about this but we do have his will so know what lands and properties he passed on. We also have his grandfather’s will which, on the face of it, seems to treat Thomas harshly: his sister Elizabeth gets £300 and his other siblings get an even share in their grandfather’s “half-part share and interest in the lease of the Rectory of Winsborough” whilst Thomas is bequeathed just five shillings!
By the time of his grandfather’s will Thomas was about 28 years of age, married, and with two or three children of his own. I take the view that Thomas’ grandfather knew that Thomas would be secure financially and instead used his will to provide financial support to some of his other grandchildren.
We don’t know much about Thomas’ childhood and unlike some others in the family, I have found no records of admission to either Oxford or Cambridge. As the son of a gentleman he would have had a formal education but perhaps, given the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, when Thomas was still a child, this disrupted his plans. It is interesting to note that Thomas’ youngest sister Anne was baptised in 1641 just before the outbreak of war. Does the lack of any further siblings suggest that his parents were separated because of the war or sequestration? It does look as if Thomas’ father eventually remarried (see his grandfathers will dated 1661 which refers to someone called “Jane”) so perhaps there are no further siblings because his mother died after the birth of Anne.
We do know that Thomas and his siblings – John, Edward, Elizabeth and Anne – were baptised at Woodnesborough and grew up there. When his brother John makes his will on board the HMS Bonaventure in 1672 he refers to himself as being “late of Woodnesborough” and when Thomas is married he is described as being “of Woodnesborough”.
Marriage to Margaret Lynch
Thomas and Margaret are married on the 28 December 1658 in Staple in Kent in the parish church of St James the Great. Thomas was 25 years old and Margaret 28 when they married which seems quite late but I feel sure that the marriage would have been viewed in a positive light. The Blechendens were a well known “ancient family” and the Lynch’s were also a well-established county family in Kent. Margaret’s great great grandfather Simon Lynch MP for Sandwich, had bought the Groves estate in Staple in Kent where the family resided for at least two centuries – there are memorials to a number of the Lynch family at the parish church in Staple.
Margaret’s cousin, Sir Thomas Lynch, was a sugar baron and three times Governor-Lieutenant of Jamaica. Her uncle Aylmer Lynch, like her father John Lynch, went to Jesus College Cambridge and entered the Church. Uncle Aylmer left a detailed will with many references to family members one of whom is Margaret who is left the generous sum of £100:
Item I give and bequeath to my Neice Margaret Blechenden wife of Thomas Blechenden Gent. the sum of one hundred pounds.Extract from the will of Aylmer Lynch, dated 27 November 1686
Aylmer Lynch was possibly named after his mother Judith Aylmer or more likely his grandfather John Aylmer, who was appointed as Bishop of London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He was also briefly the tutor to Lady Jane Grey and after a distinguished career in the Church was, when he died, buried in St Paul’s Cathedral. The name Aylmer (also Aelmer/Ailmer/Elmer) helps to further positively identify one of Thomas and Margaret’s children – Aylmer Blechenden baptised in Aldington in 1670.
Thomas and Margaret spend their early married life in Woodnesborough where their first three children are baptised. The records then suggest that they then moved for a time to Harrietsham, where two further children were baptised, before they then moved to Aldington where we see further baptisms.
Thomas and Margaret moved to Aldington in circa 1668 because Thomas inherited the family property Simnells (this first came into the Blechenden family when Thomas’ ancestor William Blechenden married Agnes Godfrey in the late 1400s/early 1500s). Although briefly in the hands of John Cason after he married Elizabeth Blechenden, John Cason transferred it back to the Blechenden family (i.e. to Thomas and Margaret) in 1663.
Thomas Blechenden of Woodnesborough, gent, who afterwards resided there and died siezed of it in 1690..leaving issue by his wife Margaret Lynch several children and the eldest son John Blechynden succeeded him in this estate and likewise resided at Simnells. He left Ann his wife surviving and she joined with her eldest son Thomas, of New Romney, gent in 1715, in the sale of this estate to Stephen Haffenden, of Egerton, clerk, who died the next year
the Children of thomas and margaret
Thomas and Margaret have nine children and unusually it looks as if most, if not all, survive infancy. Certainly the first eight are all mentioned in the probate record to their uncle John’s will in 1672 with the youngest Anne not mentioned only because she hadn’t yet been born.
Two children, Thomas and Margaret, are baptised in Harrietsham in Kent. This is the first time I have come across a Blechenden baptism in Harrietsham and it was initially unclear to me which branch of the Blechenden tree they belonged to but, given that the baptism dates fit neatly between the Woodnesborough and Aldington baptisms, and given that we know from the probate record to John Blechenden’s 1672 last will that Thomas and Margaret Blecheden had two children also named Thomas and Margaret, I am confident that the baptisms in Harrietsham are for the children of Thomas Blechenden and Margaret Lynch.
There are also some family connections with Harrietsham through Margaret’s father John Lynch who was the Rector of Harrietsham from 1630 until he was sequestered in 1646 (British History online says he was sequestered “about 1642” during the English Civil War but restored in 1660). Margaret’s sister Grace also lived in Harrietsham around this time. Grace married the Rev. John Squire and sadly their daughter, also called Grace, died in Harrietsham in 1664 at just 12 years of age. 1664 is the same year that Thomas and Margaret Blechenden baptised their son Thomas in Harrietsham so perhaps the family were staying with the Rev. Squire and Margaret’s sister Grace.
The children of Thomas Blechenden and Margaret Lynch are:
- Elizabeth Blechenden baptised 14 Nov 1659 Woodnesborough, Kent
- Grace Blechenden baptised 10 Dec 1660 Woodnesborough, Kent
- John Blechenden baptised 01 Jan 1662 Woodnesborough, Kent
- Thomas Blechenden baptised 08 May 1664 Harrietsham, Kent
- Margaret Blechenden baptised 27 Mar 1666 Harrietsham, Kent
- Edward Tookey Blechenden baptised 2 June 1668 Aldington, Kent
- Aylmer Blechenden baptised 26 April 1670 Aldington, Kent
- Gratian Blechenden baptised 10 December 1672 Aldington, Kent
- Anne Blechenden baptised 19 May 1676 Aldington, Kent
I will set out a little more detail on each of the children in the post immediately following this one.
The last will and testament of Thomas Blechenden
Thomas Blechenden wrote his will on the 9th of June 1681, just a few days after he buried his eldest daughter Elizabeth on 28 May. Perhaps this is a second will, rewritten to take account of his daughter’s passing. But it is his final will and when Thomas dies in June 1690 probate follows swiftly on 29 July 1690.
Thomas was just 57 when he died and left behind his wife Margaret, one married daughter, Grace, who isn’t mentioned in the will, and seven other children including his heir John. Margaret is the primary beneficiary of the will with Thomas leaving her the lands and properties until her demise after which they pass to their eldest son John. Margaret and John are joint executors of the will which is overseen by “my loving son George Tooky gent.” George Tooky is a mystery figure – I have not been able to locate him or establish why he is described as “my loving son” but given that Thomas names one of his children Edward-Tookey there must be a close family relationship. I only have a transcribed copy of the will (and will put a copy of that on my pages) so it is possible that this is an error and should read George Hussey – that would make much more sense – but that question is unresolved until I am able to find the original and check against it.
In his will Thomas asks to be decently buried in the south chancel of Aldington Church near his “great grandfather John Blechynden Esq. dec” and this naming of his great grandfather, buried in Aldington helps to provide greater certainty of his lineage.
Thomas’ grandfather is the John Blechenden who was married to Margaret Ashenden and then to his cousin Frances Blechenden. John Blechenden lived his later years in Monkton in Kent but his will expressly set out that “I commend my body to the parish church of Aldington“. This image shows the lineage from John Blechenden down to his great grandson Thomas.
Margaret Blechenden, nee Lynch, lived until 1712 and was 82 years old when she died. She probably remained at Simnells until her death – the Aldington parish registers record her burial as April 7th 1712 and I hope that she was buried with her husband in the church. Her eldest son John pre-deceased her dying in 1709, so Simnells then passed to John’s son Thomas (born 1692) who, together with his mother Ann, sold the Simnells estate in 1715 ending 200 years of ownership by the Blechenden family.
Thomas Blechenden of Woodnesborough, gent, who afterwards resided there and died siezed of it in 1690..leaving issue by his wife Margaret Lynch several children and the eldest son John Blechynden succeeded him in this estate and likewise resided at Simnells. He left Ann his wife surviving and she joined with her eldest son Thomas, of New Romney, gent in 1715, in the sale of this estate to Stephen Haffenden, of Egerton, clerk, who died the next year.Edward Hasted, ‘Parishes: Aldington’, in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8 (Canterbury, 1799), pp. 314-327. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol8/pp314-327 [accessed 28 January 2023]